Jamaica’s young Reggae Boyz are facing a must win scenario in their final two games of the group stages of the CONCACAF Championships if they are to harbour any hopes of advancing to the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The Jamaicans saw their hopes of finishing among the top three teams in Group A receiving a blow after going down to a 2-0 defeat to Panama at the National Stadium in Kingston on Wednesday – a result that left the tournament host second from bottom on the 6 team table with just a point from 3 games.
In a tightly-contested encounter that produced no first-half goals, Panama took the lead in the 56th minute through the dangerous Edson Samms and went further ahead 4 minutes from time courtesy of an Ismael Diaz strike.
An ordinary exchange of passes in the defensive side saw Fidel Escobar burst into action and deliver a superb pass with the outside of his right foot down the middle of the field. Out on the left, the intelligent Samms got behind defender Roberto Johnson and raced towards the ball. He got to the edge of the penalty area and snapped a shot past goalkeeper Nicholas Nelson for a 1-0 lead.
Only two minutes earlier, Jamaica had an effort from a similar spot on the other end but Donja Smith sailed an attempt high as goalkeeper Jaime De Gracia charged off his line.
Diaz netted an insurance tally with four minutes left in normal time. After an exchange with the right-sided Jhamal Rodriguez, Diaz received a return pass and fired the ball into the lower left corner from 17-yards out.
Assistant coach Lenny Hyde while acknowledging the uphill nature of Jamaica’s task says a lack of discipline at key moments caused his team the game and also said the aim was now to get a result against the United States on Sunday
The Panamanians with the result moved to maximum 9 points from 3 games, 2 points ahead of Guatemala who had a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidadians with the loss remain on 4 points but dropped to 4th on goal difference behind the United States who ran out comfortable 8-0 winners over Aruba.
Group A next moves to Montego Bay and will resume play on Sunday with a tripleheader: Panama-Trinidad & Tobago (3:00 p.m.), Guatemala-Aruba (5:30 p.m.) and Jamaica-USA (8:00 p.m.).
The tournament continues on Thursday afternoon with El Salvador facing Canada at 3:00 p.m. after which two times defending champions Mexico (9 points) take on second place Honduras (4 points) at 5:30pm. Action on the day ends with the bottom of the table clash between Haiti and Cuba at 8:00 p.m.
Day 7 – Thursday, January 15
15:00 El Salvador vs. Canada
17:30 Mexico vs. Honduras
20:00 Haiti vs. Cuba